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Leaving a legacy

I had an interesting conversation with a friend a while back. A group of us were listening to him share a story. He had just returned from the funeral of Dan Peek, one of the trio of founders of the 70s rock group, America. My friend had known Peek for many years, as they both were involved in the music industry through several decades.

My friend talked about coming away from the day feeling like there was something missing. He talked about feeling a sense of emptiness at the ceremony. There were lots of pictures of guitars and a few of his dogs, but there was nothing to carry on from that day; no lasting legacy.

That led us into a bigger conversation about leaving a legacy. And it led my friend to question his own life and the legacy he was leaving. This from a man who has had more of an impact on people, one at a time, than anyone I know. His close friends call him Yoda, because of the wisdom he shares with us.

At some point in the conversation, we all began to look inside ourselves and ask the question, “What kind of legacy am I leaving?” Our natural first focus was on our families – our spouses, children, grandchildren (well, not yet for me). But the conversation got interesting when we looked beyond the immediate and started thinking about the bigger picture.

That bigger picture comes into play when we think about friends, co-workers, associates, industry and business contacts. And sometimes that word ‘friend’ can be used to describe people in all those other areas as well.

While it’s probably a good exercise to think about what kind of legacy we are leaving – what we will be remembered for doing, what kind of person we were – it leads into thinking about what and who helped us get there.

For many of us, this industry has been our home for years. We grew up professionally doing this. We married, had children, raised them and sent them off on their own, all while being a part of the tradeshow and event industry. This industry supported us through all of the good times and the hard times.

For my family, it gave us opportunities to travel that would not have happened otherwise; it exposed my kids to a side of the business world that most people never see, and it gave my wife and I some very special moments in some very special places.

For me, this industry has given me a chance to make friends all over the country and the world. It has allowed me – through my clients – to learn about such a variety of businesses, from jet fuel to cow bellies, from nitrogen fertilizer to cooking sprays, from malt beverages to over-the-road trucks.

It took a while for me, but I’ve figured out that the best way for me to give back to this industry – to leave a legacy – is to be involved and contribute to the Exhibit Designers & Producers Association Foundation.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to go off on a big commercial here. But I am going to challenge you to check out how you can be a part of the EDPA Foundation’s Silent Auction, held at the EDPA ACCESS Annual Conference, November 30 – December 2, 2011. It’s a great way to be a part of the good works of the foundation and to support industry people in need. Go to www.edpa.com/foundation for more information.

You might also want to think about attending the conference as well. It’s just one way you can make more friends and make your mark in our industry.

And I am also going to challenge you to think about leaving your legacy. It doesn’t matter whether you’re 22 or 52, there is not a bad time to think about your legacy.

See you on the show floor.

Jim Obermeyer has been in the tradeshow industry 29 years, both as a corporate trade show manager and exhibit house executive. He is a partner in the trade show and event marketing firm Reveal. He can be reached at jobermeyer@revealexhibits.com.

Posted in As the Saw Turns
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